COLUMBIA — Tom Turnipseed, a Columbia attorney who served in the state Senate and ran for governor, plans to spend a month in Iraq to study conditions there and promote peace. "We want to try to relate to the ordinary people there," Turnipseed said.
Turnipseed said he thinks the mission is so important that he is going at a time when his family is expecting two grandchildren to be born within the next month.
He said he's prepared should a war start while he's there.
"I'll just hang in there, but I hope they won't" start a war, he said.
"There are going to be a lot more people killed this time," Turnipseed said.
But his wife, Judy, said she fully supports her husband's trip.
"I'm so psyched about what we are doing. We have so much to do so fast. I feel like Tom and I have found our calling in life," Judy Turnipseed said.
"He'll carry my heart and spirit with him," she said.
"I'm doing it because I want peace over there. Some people think it is inevitable. I don't. My main concern is that people over here know what's going on with regular citizens over there," Turnipseed said.
He said the national and international news media have portrayed events in the Middle East more like the reality television shows in vogue today rather than a life-and-death struggle.
|How You Can Help:
Carolina Peace Resource Center is sponsoring Tom's trip abroad and is accepting donations to cover expenses. Donations can be made at their website at www.carolinapeace.org or by calling Jerry Rudolph at 803-252-9000. Make checks payable to CPRC and designate for: Tom to Iraq.
"When you watch television at night, it's almost like a ball game. Countdown to kickoff. Countdown to Iraq," he said.
And he said he thinks the Bush administration is manipulating the press by sending reporters to boot camps and survival training to accompany troops.
Turnipseed said he will be traveling with a delegation of the Iraq Peace Team, an organization that has been working since 1996 in Iraqi hospitals and schools, trying to deliver medicine to Iraqi citizens.
"A war will make us less safe, not more safe. My grandchildren are going to be less safe if we start a war," he said.
He said he has not been outside the United States since he was in the Army in the 1950s, and had to apply for his first passport to make the trip.
His trip will take him by air to Amman, Jordan, where he will face a ride in an SUV on dirt roads for 10 hours or more to arrive in Baghdad.
"It's going to be a real adventure for me. I'm going to meet a lot of people I admire. There are about 35 people in the group already there, and 10 of us are going on this trip," Turnipseed said.
Turnipseed cited bombing in the first Gulf War of Iraq's eight multi-purpose dams, destroying flood control systems, irrigation, municipal and industrial water storage, and hydroelectric power as evidence of the substantial damage done to the Iraqi economy.
"Major pumping stations were targeted and sewage facilities were destroyed. Article 54 of the Geneva Convention prohibits attacks on drinking water installations and supplies and irrigations works. After such deliberate destruction, we used sanctions to prevent Iraq from rebuilding, knowing epidemics would ensue," Turnipseed said.
Copyright 2003 The Greenville News